A onetime minister of justice in Quebec is lending his voice to demands from the families of murder victims in cases that have long been unsolved. Lawyer Marc Bellemare sent a letter to the province’s public security minister, asking for an inquiry over claims by the families that police have badly mishandled investigations, blocked their access to information...
Police in Quebec have long been among the worst* in Canada at solving murders. Now, one man – bolstered by decades of meticulous research – is challenging this futility with a demand for an inquiry and the formation of a cross-departmental, province-wide cold case squad. John Allore charges that Quebec police are “completely incompetent.” He knows this, he says, because of his dogged research into more than 20 unsolved killings from the 1970s and 80s, including the murder of his 19-year-old sister Theresa. Allore says police deliberately refused to investigate those cases, so he did. Allore uncovered glaring failures in the investigation of Theresa’s November 1978 murder in a small community 150 kilometres east of Montreal. Police wrongly first labelled her death an accident or suicide, fumbled the search for missing clothing and possessions and later discarded important physical evidence that could help identify her killer. More than 37 years after Theresa was killed, the unsolved murder has just been added to the website of the Quebec provincial police force’s cold case unit, thanks to John Allore’s persistence. But he’s not done. Allore (hear him in the Cancrime podcast, after the jump) is pressing for co-operation among departments with unsolved cases that could be connected. His remarkable research and sharp criticism have attracted the attention of senior police officials in Quebec and given hope to families of other victims.
The Federal Court of Canada has thrown out the claim of an imprisoned double cop killer that he’s been defrauded by Corrections Canada and has ordered him to pay $150 to cover CSC’s legal costs. Protonothary Roger Lafrenière cited “radical deficiencies” in Richard Ambrose’s two-paragraph statement of claim and noted that it contained only “bald allegations of fraud and legal conclusions.” Ambrose filed it in January 2016, alleging that Corrections Canada improperly withheld money from him each month for room and board, beginning in October 2010, while he was confined in prisons in Alberta and B.C. Ambrose, who changed his name to Bergeron after his imprisonment for the cold-blooded murders of two Moncton, N.B. police officers in 1974, is well known to prison workers and parole authorities as a bitter, confrontational and sometimes aggressive complainer.
We may never know exactly how many times Melissa Ann Shephard (inset) has killed. In a criminal career that spans five decades, Shephard has sown confusion, obfuscated with layers of lies and masqueraded as a victim. The criminal justice system, unable to affix the damning labels she may deserve – serial killer, psychopath – continues to turn her loose to kill again and struggles to contain her. She has learned from her criminal mistakes and profited from her predation. Infamous as the ‘Internet Black Widow,’ Shephard was released Friday (March 18, 2016) from a women’s prison in Nova Scotia – amid a police warning – after her latest stint behind bars, a three-and-a-half year sentence. It was imposed in 2013 after she admitting spiking drinks of her newlywed fifth husband, 74-year-old Fred Weeks, with potent tranquilizers. An attempted murder charge was dropped when Shephard pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Two of Shephard’s four husbands who preceded Weeks ended up dead and another mysteriously fell ill immediately after meeting Shephard. Recent prison assessments (read what experts say, in internal documents after the jump) warn that Shephard scores high for some psychopathic traits, she is resistant to treatment and indifferent to the suffering of her victims. The only thing that has contained her lethal greed in the past 40+ years has been time behind bars and yet, the system has refused to apply the brand that could keep her locked up.
There may be 3,500 psychopaths behind bars in Canada’s prisons, roughly one quarter the male penitentiary population, according to researchers. They are conscienceless predators and manipulators driven only by a desire for self-gratification. Until recently, Don Gazley (inset) was among them. Gazley (listen to him, after the jump, in manipulation mode, in Episode 4 of the Cancrime podcast) has a two-decade history of sex crimes and involvement in a murder. He’s been diagnosed a “classic psychopath” who poses a high risk to commit new sex crimes. Yet Gazley was released in early January from a penitentiary in British Columbia, in part, because the top legal official in Ontario, where he was last sentenced, chose not to seek to keep him locked up forever through a dangerous offender designation. Gazley’s treatment by the criminal justice system isn’t unusual. A Canadian expert on psychopaths, forensic psychologist Stephen Porter, says the system must take psychopathy “much more seriously.” His research reveals that, although psychopathy is one of the most powerful predictors of criminal recidivism, psychopaths win conditional release 2.5 times more often than non psychopaths.
The three convicted Shafia family killers want new trials and Hamed Shafia, the youngest of the trio, wants to be retried or, at least, re-sentenced, as a youth. A panel of judges of Ontario’s top court is grappling with these demands following a two-day hearing this week in Toronto at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The judges reserved judgment. There’s no timetable for a decision from the court. I think it’s unlikely the Shafias will be successful, on any of their grounds, because, as with some of their outlandish claims during their murder trial, they just can’t be believed.
Confused by the claim of the Shafia family that Hamed, one of the three convicted mass murderers, wasn’t 18 at the time of the killings, in June 2009? The surprising claim, which I have written about several times, and which will go before Ontario’s top court March 3-4, 2016, in Toronto, has left many people shaking their heads. To help explain it, I’ve created a short video (watch it after the jump), complete with a visual aid. I guarantee you’ll come away with a clearer understanding of the claims and, you might be left with a firmer feeling about whether you believe them.
Convicted multiple murderer Hamed Shafia has filed documents with Ontario’s top court in a bid to establish that he was unfairly tried as an adult in the sensational 2009 honour killing case. The exact contents of the application to admit fresh evidence, filed Feb. 19, aren’t yet known. It’s being kept secret by the Court of Appeal for Ontario until a hearing is held on March 3-4 at the court in Toronto but, as I reported previously, a secret hearing was held in Kingston, Ontario last October, at which his father and co-accused, Mohammad Shafia, testified that newly obtained documents show that Hamed was not 18 at the time of the murders on June 30, 2009. Hamed must convince Ontario’s top court to permit him to introduce evidence of the age discrepancy. He claims that his birthdate is December 31, 1991, and not 1990 as first believed. Next week’s hearing also will consider the broader arguments of all three convicted family members. Mohammad Shafia, 62, his wife Tooba, 46, and their son Hamed, were each convicted of four counts of first-degree murder but they have appealed, claiming that their trial was unfair because of “overwhelmingly prejudicial evidence” and “cultural stereotyping.”